Talkin' Outdoors

Right now, most hunters are in an in-between time. Unless you hunt squirrels and rabbits, there’s not a whole lot to do in the woods and on the water today. However, lurking on the distant horizon is something lots of hunters, myself included, look forward to as enthusiastically as we do opening of deer season. I’m talking spring turkey hunting.

Granted, with weather like we’ve been having these past few weeks, it takes a serious imagination to conjure up images of tender young buds putting out on trees, dogwoods beginning to give us glimpses of ivory, grass on the lawn awakening from deep winter sleep, purple martins twittering overhead.

However, turkey hunting time is steadily and methodically easing closer and will be here just short of two months; season opens April 7.

There is plenty of time to take care of the growing list of chores that have been gathering dust on our “honey do” list before we get serious about locating where turkeys are hanging out.

Just thinking about the distant approach of spring turkey season turns the key and opens the vault to my memory bank of some of the most exciting times I have ever had as a hunter.

It all began for me twenty-five seasons ago on April 13, 1992 when I had my first encounter with a wild turkey gobbler.

Hunting in Alabama with guide Dennis “Skinny” Hallmark, I got my first glimpse of what turkey hunting was all about. On this hunt, I sat spellbound as Hallmark enticed an old gobbler from his roost in a big pine to fly down and respond to his seductive calling. When I got my first glimpse of the gobbler, strutting and slowly making his way to my gun, my level of excitement was through the roof as I put the bead of my shotgun on him and squeezed the trigger. I was hooked right then and there and knew this was how I wanted to spend my spring mornings from then on.

I have messed up and chased off more gobblers than I was able to claim but I have been fortunate to take 41 gobblers over the past 25 seasons. This number includes a Wild Turkey Grand Slam with me putting a tag on gobblers in southern Florida, Alabama, Texas, South Dakota in addition to my home state.

This brings me to one of the most important elements of turkey hunting. When I was growing up, there was no such thing as a wild turkey in north Louisiana. Thanks to trapping turkeys around the country and transplanting releasing them on designated locations around our state, we have a good population of wild turkeys now. How did this happen? It has been because of fund raising efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) that I can now hunt spring gobblers within a few miles of my home.

All around the state, local chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation will be holding fund raising banquets to raise much needed dollars for the betterment of these wild birds we have come to cherish.

Our North-Central Louisiana chapter banquet is on the calendar and it’s only a few weeks away. Thursday March 8 is the date of the event to be held at the Ruston Civic Center. Doors will open at 5:30 to give attendees time to browse among the tantalizing array of merchandise to be auctioned off followed by dinner at 7:00.

If you’ve never attended a banquet, you’re in for a treat. In recent years, the name of these annual fund-raising banquets has been changed to add something vitally necessary to protect and defend the tradition of hunting. These meetings are now called Hunting Heritage banquets with the added goal of helping us protect our Second Amendment rights.

At this year’s banquet, you’ll enjoy a delicious meal, you’ll get to talk turkey with your buddies and have the opportunity to head home with a valuable prize or two.

Best of all, you’ll feel good knowing you did your part to assure the future for wild turkeys.